Chuck Dixon, who created the Batman villain Bane and penned some of the most iconic Batman, Robin, G.I. Joe, and Punisher stories ever created recently explained why he believes “the superhero cycle had a good run but it’s over.”
Dixon made the assertion that the superhero film cycle was over in a post to his personal Facebook. He shared a screenshot of Michael Keaton’s Batman coming face to face with Ezra Miller’s The Flash.
He captioned it writing, “The superhero cycle had a good run but it’s over.”
Speaking with Bounding Into Comics, Dixon, who is currently crowdfunding a Rambo prequel story titled First Kill, elaborated on his assertion.
First he detailed, “Every movie cycle ends. Westerns give way to spies who give way to horror and on and on. The superhero genre has had a extraordinarily long run.”
He then went into why he believes it’s over for superheroes at the box office, “But a number of factors have contributed to drop in interest for comic book based content: Oversaturation, inconsistent quality, and Hollywood’s restricted access to the Chinese market.”
Dixon then pointed to the mismanagement of the most prominent superhero universes by both Warner Bros. and Disney, “Both Disney and Warners are to blame as well. Marvel fans had to put up with a steady assault of woke content, an overbearing amount of comedy included in material, a general decline in the quality of effects and, most damaging, a deliberate departure from the source material at every opportunity.”
“DC screwed the pooch by constantly re-booting their franchises with new auteurs and casts. In addition, they diluted their brand with multiple different and conflicting continuities spread across TV and features,” he asserted. “Which Batman is ‘real?’ Who is the authorized Superman?”
Pointing to the most recent The Flash film, Dixon said, “And they damned themselves with this latest Flash flick by leaning into all the multiverse nonsense in order to cram as many cameos into this failed project as possible.”
Dixon then rhetorically asked, “Is it any wonder even dedicated fans are staying home and tuning out?”
“With nearly every studio currently billions in the red, they can no longer afford to either produce more tentpole superhero flicks or even market and release ones they have in the can or in post-production,” he concluded.
When asked what he believe will be the next cycle following superheroes, Dixon shared, “There’s more horror films in production currently than in the entire history of cinema. Those are always earners as they cost less to complete.”
“I also know that studios are looking for mid-budget action flicks with bankable leads. Good news for guys like Jason Statham and Chris Hemsworth,” he added.
Interestingly, Dixon’s comments come in the wake of James Gunn sharing he believes there are actually too many superhero movies being produced today.
He shared his thoughts to former Lex Luthor actor Michael Rosenbaum on his show Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum.
Rosenbaum asked, “Do you think that there are too many superhero shows and movies and… Because I remember when I did Smallville there were none?”
Gunn answered, “Yes. Yeah, I do think there’s too many.”
Rosenbaum then followed up asking, ““So what do you do about that?”
Gunn responded, “But I don’t think it’s not…it’s much less a problem of too many. And yes, we are not going to overextend ourselves at DC. We’re going to be very careful with the product that we put out and making sure everything is as good as it can possibly be.”
He then shared, “I think that what’s happened is people have gotten really lazy with their superhero stories and they have gotten to the place where, ‘Oh it’s a superhero let’s make a movie about it!’ And they make, ‘Oh! Let’s make a sequel because the first one did pretty well.’ And they aren’t thinking about why is this story special. What makes this story stand apart from other stories? What is the story at the heart of it all? Why is this character important? What makes this story different? That it fills a need for people in theaters to go see or on television.”
“And I think that people have gotten a little lazy,” he reiterated. “And there’s a lot of biff, pow, bam stuff happening in movies. Like I’m watching third acts of superhero films where I really just don’t feel like there’s a rhyme or reason to what’s happening. I don’t care about the characters.”
He continued, “And they’ve gotten too generic. There’s this sort of middle of the road type of genre, tone that so many superhero movies as opposed to having very different genres. I like very serious superhero movies. I like very comedic superhero movies. I like ones that are really just a murder mystery, but it’s with superheroes.
Gunn added, “I like to see these different types of stories as opposed to seeing the same story told over and over again. I don’t know how many times I…”
After Rosenbaum shared his thoughts and noted that the stories need to be more compelling, Gunn offered more of his own thoughts, “I think that also and then people say superhero fatigue. I think that you see now that it’s not a real thing. People are fatigued with repetition. And I don’t think it’s really just superhero movies, I think you’re seeing it happening now, it’s spectacle films in general.”
He went on, “But there’s a lot of spectacle films made and they just have gotten really generic. And they’ve gotten boring and they aren’t about characters, and there’s no emotion to them. And there should be emotion in things no matter. That should always be there: some type of emotion. I’m not saying it can’t be really light. I’m not saying it can’t be really heavy. I’m saying there should be some sort of emotion.”
Gunn would then reference the horror genre, “In a horror movie if you like that main character then you are much more scared when they’re about to get killed. The stakes matter.”
If the end of the superhero cycle is indeed here, Dixon has proven he’s able to adapt and create stories that cross genres including his upcoming Rambo story, First Kill. Dixon also recently released a new gritty fantasy novella following the exploits of Conan the Barbarian titled The Siege of the Black Citadel.
Dixon also has been working on his long-standing vigilante justice thriller series starring Levon Cade. The series of novels is up to 11 now. He even has a science fiction comic called Something Big with his long-time Punisher collaborator Frank Fosco that you can read for free at Arkhaven.com.
What do you make of Dixon’s observation of superhero film and TV shows? Do you agree with him that the superhero cycle is over?